Harsh Vardhan, Ravi Shankar, Prakash Javadekar quit before Cabinet reshuffle
Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar resigned today, ahead of a major reshuffle and expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet. Other outgoing leaders include Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, Sadananda Gowda, Debashree Chaudhuri, Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Ratan Lal Kataria, and Rao Saheb Dhanve Patil, according to reports.
Dr. Vardhan has been widely criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the deadly second wave that hit India earlier this year. In April-May, the country had lost track of its pandemic response, reporting lakhs of cases and thousands of deaths everyday amid a crumpled healthcare system. People ran from pillar to post to secure basic medical needs like oxygen and ambulances.
The Cabinet expansion is expected to be announced at 6 pm today. There has been speculation about possible changes in the Cabinet for weeks now, triggered by a series of meetings in June. The meetings involved PM Modi, several top Ministers, and leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). PM Modi had also met Ministers on June 20 to review the government's working.
Sources told NDTV that Gangwar was asked to quit due to his Ministry's failure in handling the migrant crisis and unemployment amid the pandemic. To recall, countless migrants lost their jobs and had to struggle to reach their homes during last year's lockdown.
Reports said that a few more Union Ministers could resign in the hours leading up to the announcement. Today will mark the first reshuffle in PM Modi's Cabinet since he took charge for a second term after winning the 2019 Indian general elections. Political analysts believe the upcoming Assembly elections in several states has largely impacted the decision on the selection of new Ministers.
As many as 43 new and old Ministers will take oath today, reports say. They include Narayan Tatu Rane, Sarbananda Sonowal, Dr. Virendra Kumar, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ramchandra Prasad Singh, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Pashupati Kumar Paras, Kiren Rijiju, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, Bhupender Yadav, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy, Anurag Singh Thakur, Pankaj Choudhary, Anupriya Singh Patel, and Meenakashi Lekhi.
Others are: Dr. Satya Pal Singh Baghel, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Shobha Karandlaje, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Annpurna Devi, A Narayanaswamy, Kaushal Kishore, Ajay Bhatt, BL Verma, Ajay Kumar, Chauhan Devusinh, Bhagwanth Khuba, and Kapil Moreshwar Patil. Pratima Bhoumik, Subhas Sarkar, Bhagwat Karad, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Bharati Pravin Pawar, Bishweswar Tudu, Shantanu Thakur, Munjapara Mahendrabhai, John Barla, Dr. L Murugan, and Nisith Pramanik.
43 leaders to take oath today in the Union Cabinet expansion. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Pashupati Kumar Paras, Bhupender Yadav, Anupriya Patel, Shobha Karandlaje, Meenakshi Lekhi, Ajay Bhatt, Anurag Thakur to also take the oath. pic.twitter.com/pprtmDu4ko— ANI (@ANI) July 7, 2021